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May 19, 2020


I think the situation between us can fairly be described as a dichotomy. I shall go on trying to sing until I am overtaken by natural or unnatural causes. You are close to taking a purely aesthetic decision - a measure of your seriousness towards singing - and giving up the art. The irony would lie with a disinterested third-party capable of comparing our competences. True I haven't heard you sing solo but I have heard the comparatively small group of sopranos in your choir singing together, separately from the others, and it was clear there would have have been no room for a duff voice. I, on the other hand, am still no better than a student. Adding the phrase "with unlimited potential" deserves closer scrutiny by anyone who imagines those words to be a compliment.

It is hard for me to put myself in your shoes. Imperfection for me is like a chronic disease; a defect may be finally erased, but chances two more will spring up in its place. Even so, if I can be exhilarated by a performance wherein I recognise the faults, consider what my mental state would be if your soprano voice could be magically reduced to a baritone and embedded in my vocal cords. A false hypothesis, of course. Resolving faults is my primary concern, and ironically, one of my great pleasures. For you it is probably akin to a minor irritation.

All the same the poignancy of your decision reaches out to me. We both have the same aim - to sing the best we can - but when Wednesday doesn't sound as well as Tuesday, and you suspect this difference to be irreversible, there is I suppose only one course of action. I tell myself I don't want to reach that stage, simultaneously knowing this to be childidsh. There is no merit in badly-sung music; and to accept badly-sung music is not in the best interests of music itself. The word sounds a little grandiose but "betrayal" springs to mind.

Thank you for that beautiful hymn. It's a wonderful tribute to your dear friend.
And yes to all of what you are saying. At 63,I've been singing in church a very long time. It's how I worship, and I'm afraid it may be over for me, and all of us. As a college student and the years after, I had a church job where there was no choir. So I would select a solo to fit the lessons and work on it all week. I was worshipping all week to the ideas coming up in the Sunday service.
I miss my little Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre, CA and I miss my even smaller choir deeply. Thank you for putting it so well in your blog.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.